Picture study...

by - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed." ~ Christopher Isherwood, from Goodbye to Berlin 

A self portrait
It all began at a Chicago thrift auction house in 2007. For a winning bid of $380, a box full of never developed negatives now belonged to him. Having no idea what he would find in this box, the only hope his innate curiosity would be rewarded with a revealing discovery, a question answered, a secret kept. Would these photos become a window into someone's life? A hobbyist at heart, John Maloof was willing to make the small investment. And boy, did it pay off.

As he began to develop the negatives, it was evident the photos were much more than ordinary street shots. They revealed the soul and unseen life of everyday experience, preserved bits of Americana in black and white from the 50's and 60's. But who was the photographer? In his quest of discovery, this box ultimately changed John's life which in succession has impacted the world over.

Her name is Vivian Maier. Born in New York City, Maier was of  French and Austro-Hungarian descent, a free-spirited caregiver by profession with a passion for photography. In her leisure time, she refined her craft by venturing outside the picturesque residence of her employers to document all segments of life in and around the big city with her acute eye. As talented as she was, no one had any idea about her gift for she stashed her films far from anyone in a series of storage lockers. Taking photographs through the late 1990's, John's quest revealed Maier's impressive wealth of work in over 100,000 pictures. Unfortunately, it also lead him to her 2009 obituary after a head injury from a slip on ice put her in nursing care where she died shortly after. Nevertheless, John's vocation has been to champion her work, gaining international media attention with exhibits in Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, London, Belgium, and Russia; in the US in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The photo exhibit travels to Sweden in August.
Unmarried and without any children, Maier was truly solitary. Perhaps this was her key to unlock intimacy with her subjects, recognizing the lone spirit within. Each picture reveals some of the most interesting marvels of urban America. See for yourself...

"Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It's a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on." ~ Vivian Maier

Revealing a life of art through picture study... xoxo-Sonya

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